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Prison Officer Sacked Days Before Christmas For Failing To Finish Certificate

Prison officer sacked days before Christmas for failing to finish certificate

A Queensland prison officer has been sacked just days before Christmas because he didn’t finish a mandatory first-year certificate.

According to a report in The Courier-Mail, union officials are furious at the decision, and plan to challenge the dismissal in the new year.

Work performance ‘unsatisfactory’

Shelton Williams, who worked at Borallon jail, had until January 7 to complete his Certificate III training, which is required in the first 12 months of employment.

But officials from the Together Union claim Mr Williams, who has a young family, was called in to work last week and told to bring his uniform before being fired.

According to the The Courier-Mail report, his dismissal letter states that his “performance and work participation is unsatisfactory,” and that:

“… satisfactory progress toward the successful completion of your Certificate III in Correctional Practice (Custodial) in the approximately 11-and-a-half months since commencing employment”.

The union claims Mr Williams could have finished the training if he was given assistance, as he had already completed part of the work, including examples of case file notes.

Sacking ‘appalling’

Michael Thomas from the Together Union told The Courier-Mail the process was appalling.

“Sacking someone with a young family seven days before Christmas without even giving them an opportunity to respond shows exactly why trust in management at Queensland corrections is at public sector lows,” he said.

“And seven days before Christmas they summarily terminate him.

“If they want to understand why staff morale is so low, maybe they should buy themselves a mirror for Christmas.”

Union plans to challenge decision

Mr Thomas said the union would be challenging the termination decision next year.

A Queensland Corrective Services spokesperson told The Courier-Mail that it did not comment on specific industrial relations matters.

“Probationary officers are expected to show appropriate workplace conduct and actively participate in their training to ensure they are capable of performing their role professionally, ethically and safely, and they are supported to achieve this,” the spokesman said.

“These obligations are clearly explained to them at the time of their joining the service.”

Worker needs to explain

Industrial relations expert Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims said sacking anyone at Christmas is a rough thing to do.

“No one likes to lose their job, especially at Christmas time, and especially if you have a young family,” he said.

“If what the union is saying is true about Mr Williams, then it seems Corrective Services might have been a bit rough in the way it has handled the matter.

“Sometimes there can be other reasons why an employer might want to sack someone, and I would like to know why it has taken Mr Williams so long to complete the work required for the mandatory qualification.”

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